Trial by fire for new permanent secretary
The new commerce permanent secretary taking office next Tuesday will likely face an uphill battle to please both consumers and the private sector while keeping Thailand’s trading partners happy amid tough economic conditions and some of the government’s less popular schemes.
Indeed, Srirat Rastapana, now directorgeneral of the International Trade Promotion Department, has already been urged to strike a balance between international and local trade as well as speed up tackling the controversial rice sales.
Pornsil Patcharintanakul, vicechairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, hailed the appointment but noted the new permanent secretary is expected to face trouble, particularly in handling domestic consumer prices and speeding up disposal of the government’s huge rice stocks.
‘‘Given her professional background, Mrs Srirat seems to have a handicap in terms of internal trade, particularly regarding domestic consumer product price controls and rice issues,’’ said Mr Pornsil.
‘‘But given her diligent and creative personality and active working style, unlike civil servants in general, we believe she will help to change the way the Commerce Ministry works.’’
A senior-ranking Commerce Ministry official who asked not to be named said Mrs Srirat’s experience in international trade and trade negotiations will help to strike a balance in the ministry’s role between internal trade and international issues.
‘‘The ministry now seems to engage itself mainly in internal trade issues. We hope Mrs Srirat will tighten the role of the ministry in the perspective of international trade promotion and more trade talks to boost the country’s exports,’’ the official said.
Deputy government spokesman Parkdehans Himathongkom yesterday said the cabinet has approved a proposal by Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan on new positions of highlevel officials of the ministry including the appointment of Mrs Srirat.
Prior to the International Trade Pro- motion Department, Mrs Srirat led the Trade Negotiations and Export Promotion departments. She was also deputy permanent secretary of the Commerce Ministry, adviser to the prime minister on international trade, and minister (commercial affairs) in charge of WTO matters.
Mrs Srirat was also posted commercial minister counsellor in Russia and Switzerland.
She possesses a master’s in economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a bachelor’s in economics from Thammasat University.
With the new appointment, Mrs Srirat will succeed Vatchari Vimooktayon who is due to retire on Tuesday.
Her appointment has resulted in a major reshuffle, with key high-ranking appointments as follows:
Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, deputy permanent secretary, becomes directorgeneral of the International Trade Promotion Department;
Piramol Charoenpao, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, becomes deputy permanent secretary;
Wiboonlasana Ruamraksa, directorgeneral of the Internal Trade Department, becomes Thailand’s permanent representative to the WTO;
Somchart Sroythong, commercial adviser, becomes director-general to the Internal Trade Department;
Vuthichai Duangratana, inspectorgeneral, becomes deputy permanent secretary;
Urawee Ngowroongrueng, legal counsellor, becomes deputy permanent secretary;
Surasak Riangkrul, Inspector General, becomes director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department;
Pongpun Gearaviriyapun, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, becomes director general to the Department of Business Development.